January is a unique time of year. While the turn of the year can be filled with a newfound dedication to goals, resolutions, and more for alumni, there will still be many stresses – one of the most prevalent being seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a common challenge that affects many navigating sobriety or other mental health disorders. Identifying the effects of SAD and creating a plan to navigate and overcome its symptoms is crucial for a healthy and transformed approach to sobriety throughout the winter season. 

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD is a depressive disorder that manifests due to changes in the amount of available daylight. Low amounts of daylight, combined with low temperatures and compromised outdoor opportunities, can have a very real emotional impact, whether an individual is overcoming other mental health disorders, navigating their continued recovery and sobriety, or simply navigating the stresses of daily life. 

Some of the signs and symptoms of a person who may be experiencing SAD include:

  • Persistent low energy
  • Low mood
  • Changing in sleeping patterns or routines
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Disinterest in previous hobbies
  • Compromised self-care efforts
  • Self-isolation or social withdrawal

Each of these challenges can be even more complicated for alumni of addiction treatment programs. In addition to these above challenges, alumni may also compromise otherwise effective or practiced grounding strategies, experience more intense or frequent urges or cravings, mood swings, or other challenges to a person’s hard-earned sobriety. Working with peers, friends, family, and the professionals at Hawaii Island Recovery can help each alumnus best prepare to address the effects of seasonal affective disorder in sobriety. 

Using the Holidays to Celebrate Sobriety
Using the Holidays to Celebrate Sobriety

The holidays are a complicated time for alumni continuing to navigate their best sober lives. However, the holidays can also be a time to celebrate sobriety, and Hawaii Island Recovery's substance abuse treatment in Hawaii is committed to helping each alumnus celebrate their accomplishments throughout the sober journey. If you are looking for more ideas on how you can approach the holiday season with your friends and family, or looking for a community to celebrate your sobriety, call (866) 390-5070.

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Navigating Seasonal Affective Disorder

While SAD is common, it also affects each individual differently. Having dedicated strategies to overcome SAD while continuing to engage in effective outpatient treatment with Hawaii Island Recovery or other local addiction recovery groups can be instrumental in continuing to lead a fulfilling and sober life as an alumnus. 

Use Light and Light Therapy

Light is an important resource for positive emotional health. Ensuring that lights are turned on in frequented spaces can help to address the pervasive nighttime outside. For many, this means keeping lamps in living spaces well-lit, while others may benefit from the use of dedicated lightboxes in specific areas for effective light therapy. 

Lightboxes provide a soft light that emulates natural light and creates a comfortable atmosphere that can be instrumental in addressing SAD. Setting up lightboxes in personal offices or hobby areas can be a great way of ensuring that each individual is getting enough light, even while actual daylight hours remain short. 

Maintain a Routine

It can be easy for those experiencing SAD to compromise established routines. Sleeping in, going to bed early, or feelings of low mood and motivation can all affect a person’s ability to tend to responsibilities or self-care plans. Even while outside daylight hours change, keeping consistent alarms, routines, and schedules can all add a degree of normalcy that can be essential in overcoming the effects of SAD. 

Stay Socially Connected

Friends, family, and peers met in treatment at Hawaii Island Recovery’s luxury mental health facilities are all supports available at any point throughout the year. Staying socially connected with these individuals can be an important positive influence while navigating SAD. Both addiction and SAD can promote feelings of loneliness or isolation, and having dedicated strategies to regularly connect with others is necessary for overcoming these challenges.

Daily phone calls, group text messages, weekly dinner plans, and more, all coupled with continued engagement in effective outpatient treatment and group therapy sessions, can ensure that each individual can challenge feelings of isolation brought about by SAD by effectively tending to social needs. 

Keep Physically Active

While low outdoor temperatures and dwindling amounts of daylight can compromise many of a person’s outdoor coping strategies and physical exercise outlets, it is still important to make the best use of whatever daylight is possible. Staying physically active by going on a walk during the day can be instrumental. However, in times when a person’s outdoor physical activity outlets are compromised, finding new ways to stay physically active is paramount. 

Starting indoor physical fitness routines, yoga, or even making an effort to stand up and walk around the house every 30 minutes or hour can all ensure that an individual can keep the body moving without becoming too complacent or feeling trapped or stagnant; each of which can have equally as potent emotional implications. 

Creating a New Holiday Season for Military Families
Creating a New Holiday Season for Military Families

Creating a new holiday season, complete with new traditions, expectations, practices, and more is a complicated ordeal for veterans and military families. For more information on our Hawaii recovery center this holiday, call (866) 390-5070.

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Eat Right to Overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder

Having a healthy diet is important for addressing the effects of SAD, as well as many other emotional challenges. Keeping regular mealtimes, coupled with ensuring that meals are genuinely healthy and refreshing, can improve mood and provide each individual with the energy to tackle the challenges of the day ahead, all while continuing to build resilience and a positive mood despite the challenges of SAD. 

Seasonal affective disorder is a complex depressive disorder that can compromise other areas of life, especially for those continuing to overcome the effects of addiction as an alumnus. If you or your loved one are affected by SAD, we at Hawaii Island Recovery can help you today. We combine our effective luxury mental health facilities with proven and effective addiction treatment, emotional support, and a community of peers, all while personalizing each program to be unique to your needs and goals. Navigating SAD as an alumnus can be difficult, and the support of our community and professionals, along with using the unique advantages of Hawaii, can help you today. To learn more, call to speak to us at (866) 390-5070.